The 2017 Sun Country Yarrawonga Mulwala Relay for Life held at JC Lowe Oval on the weekend raised an impressive $38,414.11 to support the work of the Cancer Council.
While the event did a great job of raising money, it also did much more than that, it raised the spirits of those fighting their own cancer battle, raised the hope of a cure for those who have lost loved ones to cancer and celebrated the triumph of those who have been able to rise above cancer and survive.
The Relay for Life bought together survivors, carers, family and friends to complete laps of JC Lowe Oval over an 18-hour period.
The event had to be slightly modified after the weather turned nasty and rain fell throughout most of Saturday but it wasn’t enough to dampen spirits with everyone involved still enjoying the occasion.
Relayers shared tears and laughter, some sported whacky costumes, they sang along to the live music performed by Me and the Girl, Ray McCartney and the Choir Master of Lakeside Voices and, if they were lucky, some managed to sneak in a few minutes of sleep.
“It was great fun - a shame about the weather but people seemed happy and were walking a lot which is fantastic,” said Sun Country Relay for Life Organiser Diane Tregoning.
“I liked bringing the community together to enjoy time as one and our committee has done a fantastic job to create this event in the time frame we had.
“I do hope next time the footy, runners, netball, soccer teams and such would like to enter more teams as it would give us more relayers, not necessarily lots more money.”
The event began with an official opening ceremony hosted Moira Shire Councilor Peter Mansfield and his wife Mary with the ribbon cut by some of the youngest relayers.
Dr Bill Toms and assistant Debbie Barr played bagpipes and drums to lead the first lap as teams began their relay, from then on ensuring a member from each team was walking the track at all times.
The evening also featured a moving Candlelight Ceremony with three candles lit and three moving speeches to follow.
The first was an emotional speech by Hayley Bigger who spoke on behalf of Yarrawonga P-12 about her best friend, 15-year-old Lilly Toms who died from Leukemia in August this year.
Ken Alexander a member of Cobram Oasis Group followed and spoke of his experience as a five-time cancer survivor and that of other cancer sufferers in Oasis.
The third and last speech was given by Joy Lawford a member of the Lawford Family relay team who spoke about her journey through breast cancer and a look at the future after recovering from the disease.
Also as part of the Candlelight Ceremony, participants bought along items of tinned food used to hold down candle bags which the Relay for Life committee then kindly donated to MHA Care Foodshare program at the conclusion of the event.
The donation allows MHA’s Foodshare program to continue to support people within the area who are struggling financially often due to being unable to work due to illnesses such as cancer or other difficulties.
Member for Ovens Valley Tim McCurdy closed the ceremony by leading the last lap alongside many of the people involved in the relay.
The final tally will be announced in the coming weeks with banking to continue for one month but Diane said the efforts of teams this year had been fantastic.
“This year we had 18 teams involved and they all put in a great effort,” Diane said.
“Fundraising efforts from the volunteers was phenomenal and the teams have been wonderful in raising funds.”
The team who raised the most money was the Oasis Movers and Shakers ($8,955), followed by the Lawford Family ($8,235) and the Colours of Hope ($4,009).
Diane thanked everyone involved in the 2017 Sun Country Yarrawonga Mulwala Relay for Life including her hard-working committee, coordinator from CancerVic Nick Wald, husband Ross and daughter Laura for their help in putting together the event, carers and team captains, past chairman Bree Tresize and the past hardworking committees, the fantastic teams, volunteers and everyone who supported the fundraising effort.